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Theoretical High Energy Physics


Research interests


Our research is within a wide range of topics in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics. One of our main goals is to use string-theoretic techniques to achieve a better understanding of strongly coupled quantum systems, such as QCD, the theory of the strong interactions.

Our research areas include:

  • Quantum Field Theory (perturbative and non-perturbative)
  • Supersymmetry
  • String Theory
  • The AdS/CFT Correspondence
  • Integrable systems and quantum groups


Group Members


Group Leader


Konstantinos Zoubos
Associate Professor


Postgraduate Students


Phillip Badenhorst
MSc Student


Hector Dlamini
PhD Student


Shezaad Essop Moosa
MSc Student


Sipho Lukhozi
MSc Student


Yannick Mvondo-She
PhD Student

Possible MSc or PhD Research Projects


  • The Minimal Model/Higher Spin duality: Higher spin black holes and their thermodynamic properties
  • Entanglement Entropy in Higher-Spin Theory
  • Integrability in the AdS/CFT correspondence: Deformations, three-point functions, non-planar effects
  • Holography at Finite Density
  • Holographic duals of Chiral Symmetry Breaking
  • Generalised geometry
  • The pure spinor approach to string theory on RR backgrounds
  • Logarithmic CFT and holography

MSc students typically need to study Quantum Field Theory, Group Theory, General Relativity and String Theory in their first year, before starting work on their projects. There is a possibility to follow relevant courses offered by the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as informal reading courses within the group.




If you are interested in joining our group for your MSc or PhD studies, please contact K. Zoubos to enquire about availability of bursaries. In case no bursary is available from the group, you can still apply for NRF or NITheP bursaries (the calls typically open around July-August). For PhD applications, apart from the formal requirements you will typically be asked to send your CV, a copy of your MSc thesis and arrange for 1-2 recommendation letters to be sent directly to K. Zoubos. This should be done before you initiate an application with the University.



Past Honours Projects


  • Jayden Savage: "Orbiting strings in AdS5 black hole backgrounds ". [Pdf]

  • Daniel Wertheimer: "General relativity and the black ring coordinate system ". [Pdf]

  • Shezaad Essop Moosa: "Soliton scattering via the dressing method on soliton models of S5". [Pdf]

  • Phillip Badenhorst: "Characterisation of Higher Spin Black Holes ". [Pdf]

  • Sam Tolmay: "Coordinate Bethe Ansatz and Quantum Group Symmetry of the Spin-1/2 Heisenberg Spin Chain". [Pdf]

  • Daan Burger: " AdS3 within Kerr Geometry and the Entropy of the Near Horizon Extreme Kerr ". [Pdf]


Publications from inSPIRE


National Collaborations


  • R. de Mello Koch (U. of the Witwatersrand)
  • P. Caputa (U. of the Witwatersrand)


International Collaborations


  • C. Kristjansen (NBI, Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • K. Splittorff (NBI, Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • D. Giataganas (NTUA, Athens, Greece)
  • L. Pando Zayas (U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA)
  • T. Mansson (KTH, Stockholm, Sweden)
  • J. Rasmussen (U. of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)


Postdoctoral Positions

There are currently no postdoctoral fellowships available in the group. However, interested candidates who have completed (or are about to complete) their PhD are welcome to contact K. Zoubos to enquire about applying for fellowships, funded e.g. by the NRF or the Claude Leon Foundation.

In addition, the University of Pretoria grants postdoctoral fellowships annually. More information can be found here. The vice-chancellor's postdoctoral fellowships are particularly relevant for international candidates and have a deadline of 28 August. For more details, please contact K. Zoubos.

PhD Positions


There is currently one NRF-funded PhD bursary available within the group. Interested candidates who are about to complete/have completed their MSc work in Theoretical Physics (or related fields) should contact K. Zoubos at [email protected], including their CV and a copy of their MSc project. They should also arrange for 1-2 recommendation letters to be sent directly to K. Zoubos.

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Last edited by Konstantinos ZoubosEdit